Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre
Until 14 Apr 2018

Review by Anthony Vawser

For those unfamiliar with this Alan Ayckbourn piece, you deserve to be as surprised as this reviewer was by the turn of events as they unfolded. Suffice to say that what at first appears to be a light comedy (with jokes and attitudes that at times border on being regrettably dated, despite what the programme describes as an updated script revision) spins into a different dimension as it develops into an intriguing mystery, a tense thriller, and an affecting human drama, while still retaining a reasonable sense of humour.

While “Communicating Doors” is a little on the lengthy side, this is generally justified by the relative complexity of what Ayckbourn is attempting to get across in his text, though he could have perhaps shortened or even excised a scene or two that contributes little to either the forward momentum or the substance or the show. In general, director Samuel Creighton has succeeded in capturing and holding the attention and intrigue of his audience, assisted greatly by the strong performances at the centre of the tale.

Lisa Wilton makes for an engagingly offbeat and interesting protagonist who really captures our emotions by the end; when paired with Chris Galipo as the play develops, the two performers make for a quite delightful comic duo. Richard Hobson is required to negotiate a rather remarkable transformation that was totally convincing, while Hannah Doyle simply brightens the stage with her radiant presence. David Kinna and Frank Cwiertniak provide solid support.

A typically brilliant and resourceful Tea Tree Players set design (the work of Creighton, Robert Andrews, and Damon Hill) makes the absolute most of the area available while also impressively handling the more unusual elements of this show. Jo Allenby & Monday Club definitely deserve mention for contributing some memorable costumes (topped off by the make-up of Amanda Boyle), while Andrews’ lighting and sound round out the package in style.

This is a production that takes risks, while also managing to entertain and impress in most of the ways that make a show satisfying and worthwhile.